It wasn't so much that Methos had a habit of disappearing that bothered Duncan. It was that he left only the shortest of notes before going - usually with little or no warning - and then he mailed postcards. They were usually cheerful and boring and were from what appeared to be the last places one would expect to have postcards. Like a waste treatment plant in Brazil, or an abandoned mall in China. One memorable card had been a solid uniform greenish grey and the back had proudly proclaimed it to be a typical day of fog in Massachusetts. The worst part was that they were so haphazard and seemingly sent whenever the whim struck Methos. Because why should he stick to anything like a schedule?
Seeing as the entire relationship had started - officially at least - with Methos disappearing unexpectedly and then reappearing unexpectedly, Duncan supposed he should have expected it to continue in the same fashion. Still, it didn't hurt to hope for something a little different.
"I am as bad at SCUBA diving as you might think," said the most recent postcard. Three months old now. Of course it didn't have a beautiful underwater scene of tropical fish. No. It was a picture of a diving supply rental shop somewhere in Australia. Very scenic.
Duncan stared at the postcard. Three months was longer than usual. They'd been packing up to move to a new city when Methos had taken off, leaving Duncan to finish labeling and packing. And then unpacking and setting up the new place. Duncan was, perhaps, a little resentful. But it wasn't the resentment that sent him calling Connor - still in Scotland because apparently his neighbors just didn't care how long he'd been there and there was something kind of poetic about that. It was those three months without a word. Three months in which any number of things could have happened.
"Duncan? Is something wrong?" Connor had picked up on the first ring.
"Why would something be wrong?" Even though he was wondering just that.
"Because, no matter why you say you're calling, nine times out of ten, something is wrong. You're a big boy, you know."
"Yes, thank you. And nothing's wrong." Not that he knew of. "Just thought I'd ask if you'd seen or heard from Adam recently."
"He's still using Adam?"
Well, that answered something right there. Methos wasn't using Adam anymore. He'd gotten all new paperwork done in preparation for the move.
"Well, he was when he left, but he shouldn't be now." After all, he'd taken the new passport and driver's license and everything with him. Which hadn't been all that much of a red flag when he'd done it, but now that Duncan thought about it, really, why had he taken it all?
"And you thought he'd be here? And not have let you know?"
Duncan looked around for a convenient wall to bang his head against. "No, Connor, I did not think he'd be there without saying something. He'd have at least taunted me. Just, you know, he sends postcards. And it's been a while."
There was a pause, followed by a longer pause. Duncan waited, uncertain of whether Connor was thinking or attempting to stifle laughter. Finally he realized he could hear papers rustling.
"Last one I got was in April. Looks like he was at some resort in the desert. He said the cabaret act was terrible. I always assumed they were jokes. Or that you were with him."
Duncan didn't answer. He looked around the new apartment, full of his things and some of Methos', but really nothing that could be directly tied to him. His journals had been safely locked away in storage, as had a small assortment of odds and ends he'd picked up in recent years. Really, Duncan realized he could claim the place was his alone and no one would question him. Methos had only ever seen it once, before they'd bought it.
"Duncan? You still there, lad, or did you drop the phone?"
"What? Oh, no, just thinking."
"You think too much, cousin. You know he'll be back. Last I talked, he was still smitten, so he didn't run off on you." Connor sounded confident and relaxed about it, but Duncan wasn't easily comforted. Still, he made nice, tried to convince his kinsman that he was fine and he was sure Methos would send him a postcard from New Jersey any day now, heralding his imminent arrival.
Connor. Of all the meddling, troublesome people, Connor was the second to last he needed. Amanda would have been worse. But not by much.
"What are you doing here?" he asked as he let Connor in.
"Come on," Connor chided. "You mope when you're on your own. You might be a few hundred years old, but you still act like a moody teenager when it comes to this sort of thing. I know you. I'd lay bets on you planning to sell this place and move halfway across the world just to prove how little you care. So let's nip that in the bud. Let's go find that great pain in the behind you've been sleeping with."
Duncan stood there staring at him for what felt like an hour until Connor clapped him on the shoulder and laughed. "I know you have a guest room. Let me drop my things in there and then you can take me out for breakfast. How's the corned beef hash at that place down the street? It looked properly greasy."
"Oh, well," Duncan said as he headed back into the apartment, leading Connor to the guest bedroom. "I'll put it this way: Be glad your heart is Immortal. The grease won't have a chance to kill you, so you can enjoy the food."
Half an hour later they were safely ensconced in a booth in the corner of the diner Connor had spotted, an array of starchy breakfast foods spread out on the table between them.
"So, last postcards we got were both Australia, but different parts, and three months is longer than he sticks in one place when he's traveling," Duncan said after Connor had spent most of breakfast convincing him that they should try to track Methos down. "How often do you get cards?"
Connor shrugged. "Once in a while. Nowhere near as often as you do, apparently." He didn't add the 'I told you so' but it was there nonetheless. "What about that friend of yours? Dawson? Weren't they friends before you met either of them?"
Duncan almost commented that Joe was retired, so he wouldn't be keeping tabs on anyone, but stopped himself just in time. Connor didn't necessarily know about the Watchers, after all. "I could call him. I probably should anyhow. I haven't talked to him since just before I moved in."
So much for being a good friend.
Connor lobbed a sugar packet at him. "Call your friend, Duncan. Maybe they're having a sleepover and gossiping about you."
"Hey, sorry! It hasn't been that long," Duncan protested. "I was busy moving in. You should come visit. Some time." He stopped when Connor held him back before they crossed a street, letting a car whip around the corner. "Hey, you haven't heard from Adam, have you?"
He could practically hear Joe's eyes roll. "I knew there'd be a motive. And as a matter of fact, I have. He called a month ago. To reassure me because he was going out of phone range for a while. You know, because some friends like to keep in touch?"
"I'm sorry! Really. Look, Joe, I haven't had a word from him in three months. He might call you but he sends me postcards. Last I heard he was in Australia."
Joe laughed, a genuine warm laugh and Duncan knew he'd be forgiven as soon as he got Joe out for a visit. "Man, you are behind the times. He was in Montana, last I heard. Backpacking. Said he was headed to Iowa for some reason."
"Iowa?" Duncan repeated, which earned him a confused look from Connor. "What's in Iowa?"
"Corn?" Joe ventured. "Iowans? An Old Farts Convention? He could be somewhere else by now, but it sounds like he was headed east. Which, I assume, is where you are? I expect your Christmas card this year to have an accurate return address, you know."
Duncan winced. "Yeah, definitely, Joe. Honestly, as soon as Adam gets back we'll have you out to visit."
"You'd better. And hey, I'll call if I hear from him. Now that I've got your new number."
Duncan hung up as they reached his apartment. "Well, now I feel like a heel, but at least I know Adam's in the country and headed this way."
Connor laughed while Duncan unlocked the door. "You really do get yourself in the worst trouble," he commented. "I'm going to go take a nap. Then we should see about what might interest someone like Adam in Iowa."
Duncan nodded and opened his laptop after Connor left the room, but really, what was he going to look for? It wasn't like Methos had a single type of interest. He seemed to pick and choose hobbies from everywhere. He wrote in his journals, collected odd and sometimes worthless pieces of art, and he could also identify birds by song, followed professional lacrosse, and Duncan was fairly sure he could also knit. It wasn't going to be easy to nail down a single specific thing that might draw Methos somewhere. Unless there really was an Old Farts Convention. Really, he wouldn't put that past him. He'd probably have founded the damn thing.
Late that night Connor found Duncan still on the couch in the living room, laptop open on the coffee table.
"Duncan, this is just silly," Connor said, sitting down next to him and pulling the laptop over. "There's got to be something you think he'd be interested in."
Duncan sighed and got up to go get himself a drink. "That's the problem. He could be interested in any of it. How well do I really know him, Connor? You met him before I did!"
"Well, he's a unique guy, yes," Connor allowed. "But you've been with him for years now!"
"Considering how old he is, that's not saying a lot," Duncan said, just before he remembered Connor thought Methos was young still. "You know, for Immortals. Seven years isn't all that much." Except for Methos it might well be. Duncan hadn't ever asked.
Connor had started doing some searching of his own and didn't comment on Duncan's slip.
"Seven years is plenty of time," he noted. "So you think about it, but don't make yourself sick. I can see that look on your face again. Go get a good night's sleep. I'll see what I can find."
Duncan left Connor in the living room and retreated to the master bedroom. The second closet had some of Methos' clothes in it, but he'd bought new things to go with his new persona. New clothes, new books, new everything. And then he'd taken off. It just all seemed so disturbingly perfect a set-up for him to disappear. But Duncan wanted Connor to be right, so he closed Methos' closet door, turned off the lights, got into bed and did his best to sleep the night through.
"Sleep well?" he asked, sounding far too awake for anyone who'd crossed an ocean recently. But Duncan simply nodded. He had slept well, oddly enough. After tossing and turning for an hour or so he'd fallen asleep and stayed that way until the sun hit his face through the blinds he'd forgotten to close the night before.
"I caught a couple of hours. I'm fine." Connor waved off the question and got himself the first cup of coffee. "So, today we think of who else we know that he knows, and we call them."
"Well, that'll be a short day then," Duncan told him, popping some bread into the toaster. "Because everyone I can think of is either just as hard to track down or not inclined to be useful."
"Now I know you're just being a pessimist," Connor said. "Who can you call?"
"Really, Connor, I don't think this is going to work! If he was last in Iowa, then he hasn't been hanging out with any of the people we knew in Paris or in Seacouver. And if he last called Joe a month ago, he hasn't called anyone else more recently."
Connor seemed to be about to protest, then apparently thought better of it. He sighed instead and sipped his coffee. "Duncan, let's go out for the day. I'm not letting you obsess over this for one more minute. Come on. Show me around the city. We'll get back to this later."
It wasn't what Duncan would have chosen to do for the day, but he was well aware that Connor wasn't going to let him sit around and consider all the ways he could have failed to notice if Methos had wanted to leave him. Quick breakfasts and showers and they were off, Duncan determined to keep the outing short.
Except it didn't pan out that way, because Connor was exceptional at finding more and more questions about everything. He wanted to know the history behind every building with a plaque and the location of every notable feature the city possessed. And then he'd wanted lunch out somewhere, so by the time they got back home it was almost time for dinner and Duncan was already impatient because he hadn't had any calls from Joe on his cell and what if there was a card from Methos in the mail for the day? He was distracted enough that he almost didn't notice the unfamiliar car parked in front of the building, but he did notice when he felt someone nearby.
"Expecting company?" Connor asked, nodding at the car. It was a big old boat of a car. The sort of thing with bench seats and enough space for an entire circus inside. And Duncan had never seen it before.
"No. You didn't invite some friends to my place?" Duncan replied. Connor shook his head as they approached the building and it became clear that whoever it was, they were inside. The front door was still locked, but there was a back entrance and Duncan wasn't about to waste time going around behind the building to check. He carefully unlocked the door and was immediately assaulted by the smell of garlic and a familiar laugh from the kitchen.
"If that's not Duncan MacLeod, you should probably get out!" Methos called. "Because I have just driven nine hours overnight and into the morning and I am not in the mood!"
Duncan strode through the apartment, stopping in the kitchen doorway and taking in the sight of Methos at the stove, frying something in a pan, and Joe Dawson seated at his kitchen table, drinking one of the beers Duncan had stocked for Methos in the pantry.
"Oh good, it is you," Methos said, smiling. "Joe, be a good man and make sure this doesn't burn?"
"Like hell," Joe said. "I'm a guest and I'm a guest without a guest room. You owe me a meal for making me lie to him."
Methos shook his head and quickly stepped over to Duncan for a kiss before going back to the stove. "Nonsense. You've been dying to let him have it since we moved. You were grinning for hours after."
Duncan snapped out of his stupor to look at Joe as Connor joined him in the doorway.
"You... you lied!" Duncan got out. "I called you and you said you hadn't heard from him!"
Connor started laughing from behind him, then pushed his way by and grabbed a beer for himself before going over to the stove to take over from Methos.
"Yeah, well, maybe you should keep in touch more," Joe pointed out. "We were going to surprise you anyhow, but that was just icing on the cake. He picked me up in Seacouver and we've been driving cross-country."
Duncan leveled a glare at Methos, who had slung one arm across Duncan's shoulders. "Speaking of keeping in touch..." he growled.
"Oh, well, that..." Methos said, glancing over at a small stack of postcards. "I wrote the old address out of habit. Picked them up before we started the drive. Oops."
The only answer Duncan had for that was to kiss him again. And he could have just ignored everything else, until Joe cleared his throat.
"So. Hate to ruin the moment and all, but I was promised a place to sleep." He gave Methos a very pointed glare.
"Hey! I didn't know Mac would get all moody and call in the Clan," Methos protested just as Connor told Joe he was welcome to the guest room and he'd take the couch. Then Methos told Connor to pay attention to the stove and Duncan left them to argue over the best sauce to make to go with whatever it was in the pan. He took a seat across from Joe and picked up one of the postcards.
"MOOSE," read the back of it. The front was a picture of what appeared to be a moose made out of tires. Duncan held it up to show Joe.
"So, did you have a good road trip?" he asked. Joe grinned.
"Yeah, I did. Thinking of moving out here now. Keep an eye on you two. Sure wish you'd done this back when I was active. Would've made my job a hell of a lot easier."
"Sorry," Methos said, coming over while Connor stayed at the stove. He plucked the postcards out of Duncan's hands. "Later for these," he told him. "I'll read them to you in bed."